Hemp bill gets positive response but no vote in committee

An bill to allow a pilot program of growing industrial hemp was heard in a House committee on Wednesday, though no vote was taken. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, presented his HB 357 to the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife committee without any official debate, public comment or committee votes. The bill would allow New Mexico State University and the Department of Agriculture to start a pilot program for industrial-use hemp. Maestas told the committee that he and committee chair Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, agreed to limit the meeting to discussion among committee members. Maestas said he made an amendment to the bill recently and wanted to give the committee time to review it.

Lobbyist disclosure bill stalls in committee

A House committee failed to pass a bill that would require more information from lobbyists at the state legislature. With one Republican member missing, The House Regulation and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-3 on a motion to pass HB 155, meaning the bill stays in the committee. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, proposes to add more information to reports from lobbyists and their respective employers. The bill would also add requirements for how long the Secretary of State’s Office is required to post information about lobbyists. Viki Harrison, the executive director for political advocacy group Common Cause New Mexico was Steinborn’s expert witness.

Required background checks on gun show purchases goes down

A House committee tabled legislation that would have closed the “gunshow loophole” on Saturday afternoon. The vote came on a party-line vote with four Republicans voting to table the legislation and three Democrats voting against tabling. This means unless one of the Republicans has a change of heart, which is very unlikely, the bill is dead for the year. The bill, HB 44, was sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque. In his presentation of the bill, Garcia said the bill was “merely” to close the gunshow loophole.

Bill to legalize marijuana is tabled in first committee

A bill that allow the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes was quashed in a House committee Friday morning. All but one member of a House Committee voted to table the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act. Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, presented his HB 160 to the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee. McCamley, who is also a committee member, was the only one from the group to cast a dissenting vote for tabling the bill. Under the proposed legislation, both marijuana and industrial hemp would be regulated and taxed by the state.

Minimum wage bills tabled in committee

The first minimum wage bills of the session were quickly tabled in the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee by the Republican majority. There were two pieces of legislation, one by Rep. Lucky Varela, D-Santa Fe, and one by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque. Each would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour but had different timetables for doing so. Both bills were tabled on a party-line vote with the four Republicans on the panel voting to table the legislation and the three Democrats on the panel voting against tabling. Garcia told New Mexico Political Report following the hearing that he was not surprised by the committee’s action.